When Jezza Williams first got his custom-made buggy at Christmas, he was free to drive again – something he hadn’t done in seven years since an accident left him tetraplegic.
But when he returned home recently the buggy was gone, and Mr Williams “felt pretty sick”.
The buggy had been stolen from his Waipara property on March 3.
Mr Williams is a C5 tetraplegic, meaning he is paralysed from his upper-chest downwards, and has limited hand and arm movements.
A 2010 accident while canyoning through waterfalls saw him fall 10 metres and clip his head on a rock, breaking his neck.
Mr Williams thought when he returned home from that his buggy had been shifted.
“I just rolled in, and normally the buggy is parked up front, and I just drove in and it was very weird. I was like ‘it’s been shifted’,” he said.
“I just went through all the different scenarios in my mind, then I was like ‘no way’. It’s kind of weird when you get things stolen, it doesn’t happen very often and it’s pretty gut-wrenching, I felt pretty sick.”
The specially-made buggy had taken about seven months to put together after rigorous testing.
“In the world of disabilities, things are very expensive. But the guys at Vehicle Adaption Specialists did a good deed, put in all of their spare time and free time to get it perfectly done.
“It was a massive job. We went through all different processes, I’d try it and see if it would work, then it wouldn’t work and we’d go back to the drawing board and try more things.”
Mr Willaims was an avid adventurer and didn’t let his disability stop him from rafting, hang-gliding, skydiving and doing other adrenalin-pumping activities.
He founded a company called Makingtrax which focused on allowing people with disabilities test the limits in the outdoors.
Mr Williams said the worst part of having his buggy stolen was knowing whoever took it would likely have no use for it.
“It took a really, really long time and so much effort on their part, and a lot of money on my part. To think that nobody could use it, really, is gut-wrenching.”
He said the support he had recieved from people on social media had been “amazing”, with over 4000 people sharing a post he made, but there was still no sight of the buggy.
“The support so far has been fantastic, amazing. I can’t thank people enough. There’s no sight or word of it as such.”
“I would probably say that the buggy is not any good to anybody apart from myself, and what they can do is go’ ‘I made a bit of a mistake” or ‘this guy probably needs it more than I do’.
“They could just drop it off somewhere without pulling anything off it or hurting it, and all is forgiven. I don’t hold grudges, I just want my buggy back.”